Finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2018!
The Gift Horse, written by Sophie Siers and illustrated by Katharine White, is the rural tale of a girl named Olivia and her family, following the loss of her mother. It is an important grief story, with lovely, relatable descriptions of sadness such as -
...in her bed where she can pull the duvet over her head and make the world silent around her.
and expressive metaphors like -
She feels like there's a balloon in her chest which is blown up so tight that there's no room for anything else. It squishes right up into her throat; sometimes she feels like she can't breathe.
The portrayals of feelings as they change - questioning why, being angry and feeling numb - will be so recognizable and validating to children experiencing loss or sorrow. All the grief stages, and the importance of one's unique walk through them, are thoughtfully referenced through Olivia's emotions.
People just don't understand. She would cry, but there aren't any tears. The big
balloon has pushed everything away and her heart feels empty inside.
In this backdrop, the arrival of a young horse, himself traumatized – a parallel to Olivia's character – is an uplifting, hopeful storyline. It's a special connection to Olivia's mother, who also had a way with horses, and a path towards feeling close with her again. It's also a chance for Olivia to find some catharsis and to help herself through this journey, in her own time and her own way.
The overall themes of grief and the healing of time and love are well handled in The Gift Horse. The illustrations really support the feelings, with dark pastel scribbles isolating bleak moments and whirls of moving, colourful pastel giving movement and life to turnaround scenes. They're appropriate for children in their style, as is the simple text, so there is a wide range in age appeal.
The ideas are universal, helpful and, of course, we all love a happy, hopeful ending.
Review by Jenny Palmer - Flaxfoot Productions / Flaxflower reviews
Since Olivia’s mum died Olivia hasn’t felt right. Sometimes she can’t breathe properly and she feels funny inside. When she is out on the farm with her dad and brother or tucked up under her blankets things don’t seem so bad, but everywhere else she feels like she doesn’t fit in.
Olivia’s father brings home a horse that’s been through its own trauma and asks Olivia to see if she can help him. Together, Amigo the horse and Olivia grow to trust each other and forge a path through their own grief and anger.
This fully illustrated junior story explores the stages of grief through a narrative that acknowledges the need for time and space in the process of coming to terms with loss. For any age and for everybody who has ever lost something they love.
32 pages / 240 mm x 285 mm / full colour through out / sewn bound
Use the arrows below to look inside a few pages of Dear Donald Trump.
See the story on TV1 - Seven Sharp
See Sophie discussing the book on TV3 - The Cafe
Dear Donald Trump deals with incredibly complex and important issues through an innocent sibling drama. It's a charming story that will spark a conversation with young children about kindness, compassion and peace in this turbulent time. All at once, the story is serious yet heartfelt, with a message-driven tale for readers of all ages.
Rebekah Fraser, NZ Booklovers
Dear Princess Meghan is a story about Emma, a young girl who is inspired by the actresses rise to royal status.
With a new understanding that being on stage is a prerequisite to a royal career, Emma takes on the important role of Anne Boleyn in her school play. But, with her courtiers at home being difficult and fellow actors forgetting their lines, Emma finds that becoming a royal is not as easy as it seems....
‘Dear Princess Meghan is a delightful read with lessons about kindness, teamwork and humility at its heart. Topical, relevant, and gently humorous, Sophie Siers engaging text is perfectly complimented by the whimsical artwork of Katie Wilson.’ NZ Booklovers
Rosie Joy - Here, There and Everywhere
Sophie Siers / Judith Trevelyan
It’s SPRING on the farm and springtime is always busy at Rosie Joy’s. There are crops to plant and baby lambs everywhere. Rosie Joy and her best friend Polly take on a special spring project involving chickens, peggy squares, famous explorers and some pretty big words! This exciting farm
girl's story bring a breath of fresh air to junior fiction
5 -12 years.
100 pages / A5 / fully illustrated black and white
soft cover / french flaps / sewn bound
Do You Want to Gallop With Me?
Sophie Siers / Judith Trevelyan
Nibbles the pony loves to gallop and splash and prance. But who will play with him? Hedgehog is busy and his friend Princess is eating sweet grass. But who is this coming across the paddock? Maybe he has someone to play with after all ...
With playful watercolour paintings this story explores friendship and fun.
32 pages / 214 x 244 mm / full colour images / sewn bound / 2–6 years
Arlo and the Ginkgo Tree
Sophie Siers / Kate Twhigg
At the bottom of his garden, Arlo finds a tree...
So begins an adventure that follows the seasons of the year, as Arlo meets and watches the creatures who live in this beautiful tree. The delightful New Zealand bird - The Fantail make a star performance!
A gentle story that delights in the wonder of the natural world.
32 pages / 240 mm x 285 mm / full colour through out / sewn bound / 2–6 years
Allis the little tractor
Published by Millwood Press, New Zealand, this is a children's book series based around a little Allis Chalmers tractor. These books are written for under-fives, early readers and for mums and dads too.
What happens when you can't do your work anymore? Your parts just don't work like they used to - how can you be useful?
This little tractor dreams of being useful, she just needs someone to believe in her and give her a helping hand.
With hard work and self belief, achieving your dreams is always possible..
The first book in the Allis the little tractor series.
Winner in the New Zealand Children's Book Awards 2016
The second book in the series finds Allis up and running and wanting to help on the farm.
This period story tells a tale of a lost postcard, a lost jacket and a bossy big brother! Set in 1910 Wellington, it’s a delightful picture of old world New Zealand that reminds us that some things never change
Book Reviews - Allis the little tractor
“The narrative leaves plenty of room for young readers to let their imaginations unfold … A useful diagram explains the parts of a tractor for the benefit of a generation that has never seen a crank handle.”
Trevor Agnew, The Source
“Allis and her people are charmingly brought to life…”
Ann Packer, New Zealand Listener
“The lovely voice and gentle spirit of this story are complimented by the warmth of the illustrations.”
Best books for Kids, NZ Book Awards 2016
“I shared it with a group of four year olds last week and they paid it the ultimate compliment. ‘Read it again,’ they all said, ‘please read it again.’”
Barbara Murison, Around the Bookshops
“A great story, absolutely charming…”
Children’s book reviewer, John McIntyre, Radio NZ